Scientists have developed regenerated silk that rivals spider silk

Spider silk is one of the materials with excellent strength and elasticity. Unfortunately, it is very impractical to raise spiders to obtain spider silk. Although some researchers are studying the synthesis of spider silk, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University have taken another approach - they have designed a method that uses silk to make fibers that have almost the same strength as spider silk.

This process involves the chemical dissolution of cocoons, but it is limited to a certain point. Their molecular structure remains unchanged, resulting in the breakdown of silk fibers into microfilament structures called microfibrils. Professor Markus Buehler of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology likened the process to the demolition of a brick house, but left every brick.

The solution is then extruded through a small opening to reassemble the microfibers into individual fibers. The researchers referred to this fiber as regenerated silk fiber (RSF), and the resulting material was reported to be twice as strong as ordinary silk.

In addition to weaving textiles in the form of traditional fibers, it is also possible to form RSFs into structures such as nets, tubes, rolls and sheets. Because silk has natural biocompatibility, possible applications for the material may include medical sutures or scaffolds for new tissue growth.

In addition, RSF can be made into a conductive material by coating a layer of carbon nanotubes. In this case, it is conceivable to apply to smart fabrics, such as anti-acne bed sheets, to warn the medical staff when the patient is lying in a position too long.

This week researchers published research papers in the journal Nature Communications.

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